League tables are produced quite frequently by a number of British newspapers and other media. Their aim is to sell their publications, but they claim to rank the universities in order of excellence. The big questions that you must ask are:
- What criteria are used to produce the published ranking?
- How reliable are the figures used in the different rankings?
- What validity do the figures have to the criteria that they claim to measure?
- What is the validity of the weightings that the compiler gives to different criteria?
The criteria used are often subjective. You should also question why some universities jump over 20 places between one league table and the next; and why, for example, there are 23 universities who could claim to be in the Top Ten depending on whose league table you read!
Use such statistics with a great deal of care. On its own, they will rarely offer you the type of information that you actually need to be able to make a clear and coherent decision. You must also consider other factors, some of which were discussed earlier in this booklet. Look at the Contents page section 1 to find out the factors to consider when choosing your university.
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